Writing Legacy Letters can be kind of addicting when you see how simple yet meaningful writing can be both for your reader and you! Legacy Letters express love and share values, traditions, wisdom, and other intangible wealth. You’ll find that life transitions lend themselves to Legacy Letters, but once you start writing these letters, you will find more opportunities to write.
Here are two fun types of Legacy Letters to get you started.
Wish Someone You Love a Happy Birthday
Is your mom celebrating a milestone birthday or your son turning 10? Take the time to tell them how they are special, what you admire about them and what you hope for them for the next year.
Start by visualizing in your mind and heart how you want them to feel when they read your letter. Hold that feeling while you write.
Use the Wellfleet Method Template
Tell your reader WHY you are writing to them.
From a daughter to her mother:
Your birthday is coming up, and so I wanted to pause and take the time to properly wish you a Happy Birthday and share some of my wonderful memories of our adventures and my feelings for you.
Use STORY to show what you want to tell your reader.
Brainstorm stories about your reader or yourself that can illustrate what you want to tell them.
Do you want to recognize your son’s creativity? Tell a story of the joy you felt when he painted a picture of you planting vegetables in the garden.
Did your mom do special things for you on your birthday when you were growing up? Remind her of those times through a few short stories that show how much her care mattered and still matters to you.
REFLECT on why the story or the values, traditions or wisdom that you shared in the stories are important to you. Why did you chose those stories?
Here is a combination of reflection and love from an older brother to his younger brother:
I know that, being six years apart, and both people of little ability to express emotion, we don’t often talk at length about our thoughts and plans. Despite that, or perhaps because of it, I have always felt a deep unspoken bond with you, and I am excited to discover how our relationship grows in the years to come as you enter adulthood.
I’ll save the jokes and sarcastic teasing for when I see you, but, for now, enjoy your birthday, and know that I will always be proud of you, no matter what.
Share your LOVE, wish them a happy birthday, tell them what you hope for them in the coming year.
From a woman to her brother:
You have been blessed with intelligence, an intellectual, creative and intuitive mind, kindness, humility and a great sense of humor, and much more. But I think your greatest blessings are your wonderful family, Ellen, Sara and Arthur. I cannot think of a nicer more deserving person than you to have such wonderful happiness and wish you much more. I hope you give yourself time to bask in all that you have achieved and how much you are loved. Happy, happy Birthday.
Close your letter, sign it, and share it!
Share a Special Object
One of my favorite ways to use Legacy Letters is to accompany a gift of a special object. Special objects have their own stories and unique meaning, and they can also represent traditions and values.
The What, the Who, and the Why
Think of an object that you own that has special meaning to you. If you were going to give this heirloom to someone, who would that person be? Why have chosen this person to be the recipient?
Perhaps your grandmother’s recipe box is special to you because of your memories of meals with your grandmother, but you hate to cook. It would make a perfect gift for your daughter, a talented chef just graduating from culinary school. Giving her the box would carry on your grandmother’s legacy and also support you daughter’s choice of career.
It could be a brooch your mother gave you when you got engaged. Now your son is engaged to marry a wonderful woman; giving her the brooch would say, “you are a welcome and important part of our family.”
For this Legacy Letter the WHY is passing on the item and the reason it is going to the recipient.
Connect the Why to Story
Why is the object special to you? What would you like the recipient to know about the object?
Recall being with your grandmother in her kitchen, the wonderful smells and tastes, the love that she put into her cooking and baking.
Describe how receiving the brooch from your mother made you feel—did you feel loved, happy, excited about your engagement? When you look at the brooch does it make you feel your mother’s presence and love?
Reflect on the Meaning
What values, wisdom, tradition or history do you want to share?
You want to let your daughter know that you value the hard work and resilience she has shown in making it to graduation and that her great grandmother would be proud of her. You want her to know you are entrusting her with your precious memories and your grandmother’s traditions, wisdom and love all contained in that box of recipes. You are telling her that you know she will use them better than anyone else.
Express the Love
Think about how you want the recipient to feel.
You want your future daughter in law to feel appreciated, seen and welcomed, hold that in your mind as you write. State that love specifically in the letter.
Together these parts create a powerful Legacy Letter. Click here to read an example of a Special Object Legacy Letter.
Think about someone you love, and start writing.
Legacy letters last a lifetime and help you express just how much you care for the people in your life. I invite you to grab a copy of Deepening Connections with Legacy Letters where I show you how to craft one from the heart.